Money going to child care providers, parents to help keep services afloat

SPOKANE, Wash. – Child care providers are struggling through the pandemic, seeing low enrollment numbers and high costs for operations. Families in need of child care may also need help paying for it. There is help out there, and Community-Minded Enterprises is one organization offering it.

The City of Spokane distributed CARES Act funding to organizations in the city, and CME received some of that money. Kathy Blair, the regional coordinator with CME, said it’s giving away $170,000 to families and child care providers in need.

“The pandemic has really been crushing to licensed child care providers and so this money is just a lifeline for many of them,” she said.

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According to Child Care Aware of Washington, as of Monday, there were 54 child care programs closed in Spokane County alone. This includes programs that have temporary closures and permanent closures. The organization couldn’t release numbers of how many centers closed permanently.

Of those 54 centers closed, Sprouting Up Kids was one. Director and co-owner Katelynn Campbell said a staff member tested positive for the virus, forcing them to close for two weeks. Campbell says they will be reopening Monday.

“It’s definitely a hardship for our staff because it’s a temporary loss in income. We’ve been very fortunate to have amazing clients, some who have even offered to pay full tuition during our closure so we can offer something to our staff,” Campbell said.

She applied for the grant through CME and received it, too. Any money is helpful right now.

“This $3,000 grant couldn’t have come at a better time just to help us be able to pay our bills and keep our doors open for parents who still need us to provide care,” Campbell said.

The Children’s Learning Center at Whitworth Church also applied for that money, but director Sarah Garrett said they were denied. CME says providers and families need to be within city limits of Spokane to be eligible for that money.

Although Garrett didn’t get that grant, she did receive some other grants over the summer for their center.

The Children’s Learning Center at Whitworth Church closed in mid-March and reopened in June. Garrett says they lost about $30,000 that first month being closed.

She says they are closer to breaking even now, thanks to the grants she did receive through the Greater Spokane Incorporated and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families.

“All of those things came right in the nick of time, but even now, because we don’t have the type of enrollment we’re used to, and because people are changing their minds about care, we’re still operating at a deficit,” Garrett said. “It’s not as bad as it was. I still continue to search for any funding I can find.”

The deadline to apply for money through Community-Minded Enterprises is Friday, Oct. 9. To find out more information on how to apply or what restrictions there are, click here.